by Gary Crenshaw
(Hampton, GA, USA)
I spend some time around some of the 'older than me' guys that still build and fly the free flight model airplanes, you know, the ones from the twenty's and thirty's before control line and radio control was even thought of. Most was rubber band powered and some were hand launch gliders but either one was capable of what they refer to as THERMALING OUT. This means when the model aircraft got caught in a thermal and continued to rise until out of sight never to be seen again. Several months of hard work building the model can vanish in a few short minutes when this happens.
I recently wrote a short story entitled Perfect Flight that made reference to a kite that seemed to ride the thermals like a glider. I have been flying kites for many years but have never heard the term used with kite flying. I will even step a little farther out on a limb and describe exactly what I consider conditions that describe a true kite thermal out. Here goes, when a kite flies directly overhead or close to it and maintains altitude without the assistance of line tension and then turns and faces the opposite direction while flying a big circle overhead.
This is what I call a kite 'Thermaling Out'. Now the main difference between kite fliers and free flight model airplane fliers is kite fliers have strings attached. In other words, we can thermal out and still take our toys back home. What a deal!
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